A recent survey by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, has revealed that urban Indians are paying much higher prices for rice this year compared to last year. The survey, which received over 22,000 responses from citizens across 315 districts, found that over one in three urban households confirmed paying 20% or higher price for rice this year. The survey also identified the top three rice varieties consumed by urban Indians as Sona Masuri, Basmati and Ponni rice.
The survey attributed the rise in rice prices to the increase in exports of basmati rice, which is a premium variety grown in the north and favoured by many Indians. According to Reuters, India signed contracts to export about 500,000 metric tons of new basmati rice to the Middle East and Europe in October, which led to a sharp increase in retail prices of the long-grained fine rice. The government had earlier reduced the minimum export price of basmati rice from US dollar 1,200 per ton to US dollar 950 per ton in September, to boost the exports amid the pandemic.
The survey also noted that the price of many other varieties of rice had risen 10-15% over the last two months even as freshly harvested supply arrived in the market. The government had banned the export of non-basmati white rice in July to ensure adequate availability and allay the rise in prices in the domestic market. However, the survey suggested that the ban had not been effective in stabilizing the rice prices for the consumers.
The survey highlighted the plight of the urban Indians who are already facing the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis and are now having to shell out more for their staple food. The survey urged the government to take steps to regulate the rice prices and ensure that the domestic demand is met before exporting the surplus. The survey also suggested that the consumers should explore alternative sources of carbohydrates such as millets, wheat, oats, etc. to reduce their dependence on rice.
This article has been republished from Zee News.